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SOIL has gathered testimonials of its staff and instructors  to give you an idea of who we are and what the world we engage with reflects back to us.

Given that our team is deeply engaged with the world in a variety of ways, these testimonials are from colleagues, students, participants, interns, apprentices, and work exchange participants from our respective endeavors alongside each team members' involvement with SOIL.

I am grateful to have worked with Imani Farm for the last three years. Working with Imani and living at Village Terraces has been an integral part of my continuing education in real-life skills. I had worked on farms before, even run my own market garden, but these experiences lacked the integration of community, food production, and sustainable systems that one can find in this agriculturally-driven neighborhood.

Liz Diaz
Imani Farm Dairy Manager 2012-2013
Imani Farm Work Trade 2010-2012

Many of us have worked with people who are good at what they do, sometimes even excellent. Rarely, however, do we have the opportunity to witness a true artist. NikiAnne is someone who intertwines the pragmatic and the poetic, who creates a solid program while simultaneously building community, who adeptly blurs the line between colleague and friend, employee and mentor. She is that consummate artist. NikiAnne changes the world by changing lives. She changed mine. And if you are lucky enough to spend time with her she will change yours.

Dr. Adam Green
Biology Professor, Environmental Studies Program Chair
Director, Center for Sustainability
at Santa Barbara City College

Chris Farmer is a rarity. Within him is a marriage of pragmatist and dreamer, masculine and feminine, macro and micro. I love working with anyone who can talk knowledgeably about the project at hand one minute and the role of mythology in creating culture the next. Farmer is blessed with a over-developed curiousity and a diminutive ego and as such is and will be a great teacher, leader and powerful instrument of change in this world. We need more Farmers in this world!

Daniel Zetah
Jack-of-Radical Trades

Michelle Dionne's offerings have transformed my life! In her work of farming, teaching sacred dance, and holding space for ceremony, she is an incredibly gifted woman and a powerful role model. Michelle brings grace and compassion to all that she does, and her love of the divine Earth shines through whether she is planting a tree, teaching bellydance, leading ritual, or simply taking out the compost! Through my experiences with Michelle, I have felt deeply empowered, inspired, and supported to live in harmony with the Earth and all Creation.

Lily Moon
Earthaven Resident 2010-2012

Andy Bosley is one of the most reliable and honest people I am fortunate to know. Andy brings real world, hands-on experience into most everything he does. He approaches his work with a sense of purpose, patience and dedication that is all too rare today. Andy is approachable and fun to be around- the kind of guy you want on your team.

Casey McKissick
Co-owner, Foothills Family Farms
Carolina Farm Stewardship Assoc. Board of Director
McDowell Agriculture Advisory Board
Western Piedmont Community College Sustainable Agriculture Advisory Board

With 15 + years experience in community building and systems design, Brandon Greenstein brings a deep understanding of engagement across disciplines and skill sets.At the intersection of the social, ecological, and economic spheres, he has been an incredibly kind and brilliant consultant to our stewardship-centered development of 150 acres, which is scaling to become the healthiest new neighborhood in the US. Key to his success is his deft and gentle ability to help groups identify and move through blockages, challenge and evolve underlying assumptions, achieve timelines, and honor the group's goals.

Thomas Choate
Co-director of Rising Commons Housing Cooperative
Research analyst, Urban Planner, and natural builder

My experience working at Imani farm in Earthaven Ecovillage was deliciously diverse. I had real training in chicken care, alternative chicken feeds, milking cows, garden crop research, plant rotation, garden planning and implementation, basic building skills and using tools in a safe and supportive environment. All these were wonderful growing experiences for me, but what stands out most are the work parties, the time spent cooking together and the neighborhood dinners. The camaraderie, laughter and fun infused in all the work is what made it wonderful for me.

Carmen Lescher
2007-2009 Imani Work Trade and Lee Warren Intern

SOIL is the natural outcome from somebody who leads an integrated life. NikiAnne’s approach to health and community integrates the social, emotional, and physical as well as the ‘more than human world.’ She also brings a profound sense of integration to her work, moving in an agile way between details and big picture. She works incredibly hard, but not to the detriment of the rest of her life. She is painstakingly efficient but also places a high value on beauty. Few, if any other people, could be better mentors for an integrated life.

Dan Fontaine
Executive Director, Wilderness Youth Project

My relationship with Lee Warren has had a profound effect on my life. Her strength, wisdom, and way of communicating has inspired me to be more authentic in all my relationships, including and most especially, with myself. Lee continues to be a role model in my life in how she brings such a vivacity to everything she does and in her commitment to being in service to the Earth and sharing its bounty. Anyone who is interested in learning to live in a more integrative, holistic, connected, empowering, and fun way should get closer to Lee Warren!

Elyana Rubin
2011 Imani Farm Work Trade

INTEGRATE OR DIE. Now there's a bumper sticker, not just for the Earth, but for each of us. Because if you're not integrated, you're fragmented. If you're fragmented, you're not whole. And if you're not whole, you're not healthy. It's what the word "health" means. And if you're not healthy, you die. So this isn't just a school for integrated living. It's a school for living, period.

Alan Muskat
Wild-forager, National Speaker, Philosopher, Stand-up Mycomedian (mycologist and comedian)
Author of Wild Mushrooms: A Taste of Enchantment

I think that Steve Torma's work is an organic and authentic way to access the "wild" truth that exists in each of us, the truth that we were born with. I have seen him work with individuals in a group setting in a comfortable yet appropriately-challenging way. I have worked with him privately and with my husband and have experienced a profound "remembering" of who I am. To me, remembering our wild nature is the key to true health and happiness. Our culture works very hard to wear us down and train this out of us. Steve Torma's work gently clears away the cultural maya of our lives and clarifies personal experience.

Monica Nolan
Owner, Voice Over Talent
Actor and Herbalist

I spent the summer of 2005 at Earthaven, working and learning from Lee at Village Terraces and on Imani Farm. My experience there changed my worldview, and I still use the skills I learned every day. I learned to view plants and animals as organisms that I have a mutual relationship with and responsibility to, rather than just objects that I eat and use. In the process, I gained skills in growing and harvesting food, making herbal medicines, and community living. I have a better understanding of my responsibilities and gifts a human on Earth.

Carolyn Waters
2005 Imani Farm Work Trade

Experience a developing ecovillage for yourself!

Most of SOIL’s classes take place at Earthaven Ecovillage, giving participants a hands-on, skill-building immersion within an authentic community-based, village setting. Tours of Earthaven are also available on a monthly basis, a great way to dip your toe into this long-standing, intergenerational social experiment.

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